Early on the people who bought solar energy systems were either live-off-the-land environmentalists, survivalists, rightwing extremists , or engineers & hobbyists. That has changed. Solar electricity systems are becoming quite mainstream, and thereforethe approach for selling them has to change too.
In particular, the residential solar lease offers a whole new way to look at going solar, and therefore alsopresents a whole new way to sell solar. Solar no longer needs to beabout amps and volts and which panels and BOS are the right for aparticular home. Those are all still very relevant, but at the end ofthe day may not be something that a homeowner who is considering goingsolar needs to hear about. Here are what I believe to be the key stepsfor selling solar. Do you agree?
1. Understand why the homeowner wants to go solar. Is it for environmental reasons? Financial reasons? Prestige?Independence from the utility company? To go off grid? It is criticalto understand what is motivating someone to go solar. That way you canspeak to them in terms that will resonate with them. Asking questionsabout why they want to go solar is more important than telling them whythey should go solar. I’ve read numerous books on sales over my salescareer and every single one talks about the importance of asking goodquestions.
2. Remember that they came to you. These days people go solar because they want to and because theybelieve in it, not because they have to. They’re not buying a used car, something they dread doing. They’re going solar! They’re taking astep that they’re excited about. Part of selling solar is being aboutto stay out of your own way and let them build on their own excitement.At some point selling solar will require lots of outreach and outboundsales, but at this point I still hear that it’s mostly inboundinquiries.
3. No matter what you’re selling, listening is always more important than talking. Customers will tell you how to sell to them by the questions they askand the statements they make. Listen, then address their questions,then listen some more.
4. Ask good questions. In my experience customers were always happier and more successfulwhen they came to their own conclusion about how they wanted to proceed, rather than me telling them how to proceed. Asking good questions canhelp homeowners come to a desired conclusion faster. It also helpsensure that they make a decision that is right for them. After all,they are the ones who will have the panels on their home for the next20+ years.
5. Unhappy customers are NOT worth it. If a customer is not the right fit and won’t be successful with solarenergy then do not sell it to them. An unhappy customer is way moretrouble than they’re worth.
6. Keep it simple. Selling a solar lease can be as simple as outlining what the monthly paymentwill be and how that it, when combined with the remaining electricitybill, will be less than why they currently pay for electricity. Itreally does not need to get much more complicated. A clear graph ofwhat their payments would be if they stayed with their current utilitycompared with payments for a solar lease combined with a greatly reduced energy bill will go a long way in explaining their energy future with a lease.
7. Process, process, process! Do some detailed analysis on your recent sales. What was the processlike? What worked? What didn’t? How could you reduce the amount oftime it too to close each deal? How could you have qualified thembetter before going on-site? What made for the happiest customers andmost successful installations? The more you can figure out what yourbest, streamlined process is, the better you’ll do in the future. Manysales books talk about how a good rep with a great process willoutperform a great rep with no process or a bad process. Now justimagine how well you can do with a great rep and a great process!
8. There is a cost to sending out bad sales people even if they’re commission only. Sure, you don’t have the pay the rep if he can’t close a deal, butthere’s a big opportunity cost if you could have sent out a better repwith a good process who could have closed a higher number of the deals. Therefore, you have to be good at hiring and even better at firing.
9. Training. Sales people should get continual, monthly, if not weekly training. You’llbe amazed how fast the message being presented by reps who attended thesame training diverges. Figure out what your best practices are, whatyour process should be, and what your unique messaging is, thenpractice, practice, practice.
Installers & sales people: I’d be interested in hearing what has and hasn’t worked for you.
Customers & homeowners: I’d also like to hear what you did and did not like about your buying experience.
Content by David Belden
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